Paul Desired to Test the Corinthians Sincerity, so they would not give the devil a place
2 Corinthians 2:9-11 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. KJV
Paul declares that it was his desire to know whether these Corinthian believers would deal with sin in their midst according to the truth of the will of God. Paul wrote the things in his first letter, very harsh things in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 because they were necessary for the cleansing and restoration, not only of the man who sinned sexually, but also for the entire congregation to manifest or make visible the proof of their faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. This English word proof Paul uses here is translated by the Greek word dokime which means acceptable, approved; to be tried or tested in their internal intentions and outward actions. Paul needed affirmation of their sincerity or non-hypocritical character, for he wanted to know that they were listening to him when he wrote commanding them what the will of God was in that matter of the man living in open sexual immorality. We are required by our Lord Jesus to be obedient in “all things” from the smallest or the seemingly insignificant to the largest and most obvious transgressions are to be dealt with in repentance and faith which is the same manner or way each one of us undeserving sinners received our Lord Jesus and His Forgiveness to us, as Paul wrote in this manner to the Colossian believers, “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:5-6).
This is the life that must be lived by every true follower of Jesus Christ, one of constant and continual repentance and faith, for when we sin we are not to dismiss it as trivial or of little importance, but on the contrary we are to be grieved over it and turn in faith to our High Priest Jesus Christ seated on His Throne of Grace and seek mercy and grace for our sin from Him (Hebrews 4:15-16). Our Lord Jesus informed the early disciples, Paul, these Corinthian believers and us today how we were to deal with anyone wilfully sinning against the rest of the body when He said, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17). Paul also wanted to prove their obedience to the command from our Lord Jesus on forgiving the transgressor who has become repentant as He commanded as we saw in the last study in Luke 17:3-4. Paul declares that since they have forgiven this brother, he too has also forgiven him his sin and done so in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, for Paul is no doubt drawing these words from the reality of being always conscience of Christ Present with him as it is written in the Proverb, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
Paul’s desire for them to handle this man and his sin appropriately as according to the will of God and likewise their handling of his restoration or re-assimilating back into the collective or corporate fellowship of all the Corinthian believers was with the express purpose to prevent the plans of the devil to cause even more chaos and havoc in their fellowship. Paul writes that he was quick to test or prove their obedience in “all things” meaning here their obedience in the excommunication or expulsion of this sinning brother and also their receiving him back into the =fellowship by way of forgiving him after his repentance, that the devil would not get an advantage or the Greek verb pleonekteo meaning to gain more or to covet or to gain or take advantage of another or to defraud. Paul knew with his many encounters with satan and his demons like the sorcerer (Acts 13:10) and the slave girl (Acts 16:18) that the enemy was always about trying to gain souls by corrupting them so that they would be eternally lost in hell forever. Paul was surely privy to the words of our Lord Jesus to the Apostle Peter when he said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). The devil tried to even tempt our Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:3-11), so Paul was determined with his language to make these Corinthian believers shut up the doors to their congregation and to each one individually to his devices or noema meaning his mental perceptions, his schemes, or his evil purposes.
“The apostle did not say that this was the only purpose of his writing, to induce them to excommunicate the offender. He does not say that he wished in an arbitrary manner to test their willingness to obey him, or to induce them to do a thing in itself wrong, in order to try their obedience. But the meaning is this: This was the main reason why he wrote to them, rather than to come personally among them. The thing ought to have been done; the offender ought to be punished; and Paul says that he adopted the method of writing to them rather than of coming among them in person, in order to give them an opportunity to show whether they were disposed to be obedient. And the sense is, “You may now forgive him. He has not only been sufficiently punished, and he has not only evinced suitable penitence, but also another object which I had in view has been accomplished. I desired to see whether you were, as a church, disposed to be obedient. That object, also, has been accomplished. And now, since everything aimed at in the case of discipline has been secured, you may forgive him, and should, without hesitation, again receive him to the bosom of the church.” Albert Barnes
“He gives another weighty reason (2 Corinthians 2:11): Lest Satan get an advantage against us. Not only was there danger lest Satan should get an advantage against the penitent, by driving him to despair; but against the churches also, and the apostles or ministers of Christ, by representing them as too rigid and severe, and so frightening people from coming among them. In this, as in other things, wisdom is profitable to direct, so to manage according as the case may be that the ministry may not be blamed, for indulging sin on the one hand, or for too great severity towards sinners on the other hand. Note, Satan is a subtle enemy, and uses many stratagems to deceive us; and we should not be ignorant of his devices: he is also a watchful adversary, ready to take all advantages against us, and we should be very cautious lest we give him any occasion so to do.” Matthew Henry
“Paul’s love, care, and concern for these Corinthian believers was not confined to trivial matters but he wanted to prove their sincerity of heart in ‘all things’ knowing that if they were not up to his test, then they would be vulnerable prey for the devil on his missions to steal, kill, and destroy. Paul did not want to uncover that his preaching to them was in vain and their faith was not saving faith.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…